Today I talked with Matt Swaim on the Sonrise Morning Show, Sacred Heart Radio, about asparagus. We’re harvesting daily from our little patch and oh gosh it’s so good. Here’s a few tidbits about the connection between asparagus and the Bible:
Not mentioned specifically in the Bible, Asparagus has been used as a vegetable and medicine, since about 3000 BC. The ancient Egyptians and Syrians held it in high esteem, and the Greeks and Romans ate it fresh in season and dried the vegetable for winter use. The name asparagus comes from the Greek word meaning “shoot”.
As far back as the first century AD, Romans cultivated asparagus in walled gardens, and the varieties produced supposedly had such big shoots that 3 asparagus shoots weighed about a pound. The Romans froze the asparagus high in the Alps for eating during celebrations in the winter. Around the same time, Greek physicians used it to help fatigue. It was supposed to be an aphrodisiac, as well. Asparagus contains folate, which may aid fertility and a healthy pregnancy.
By the 14th century, asparagus was cultivated in French monastery gardens as a popular vegetable.
White or green?
White and green asparagus are the same plant, but white asparagus is the result of a blanching technique. The shoots are covered with soil as they grow, i.e. earthed up; without exposure to sun so no photosynthesis starts, so the shoots remain white.
Cooking White Asparagus
White asparagus has a tough, bitter peel that must be removed before cooking.
Lower into simmering water in single layer and cook until tender but not mushy, anywhere from a few minutes to up to 20 or so, depending upon the thickness. (you can add some salt, lemon juice and butter if you like)
Good for you
Asparagus has less than four calories per spear, no fat or cholesterol and low sodium. In addition, it is a rich source of potassium and vitamins, fiber, calcium and iron
Cooking Green Asparagus
So many ways! Steam, grill, roast, broil. Whatever you like. I snap the tough ends off. The part that’s tough will snap off easily.
Matt’s favorite way to eat asparagus:
Raw! But wrap it in a good quality thin slice of Serrano, Proscuito or other ham. Good griddled that way, too until the ham starts to get crispy.
Asparagus Gruyere Tart
1 sheet frozen puff pastry
Approx 8 oz Gruyere or Swiss cheese
1 bunch asparagus
Olive oil, salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a floured surface, roll the puff pastry into a 16-by-10-inch rectangle. Trim uneven edges.
Place pastry on a baking sheet. With a sharp knife, lightly score pastry dough 1 inch in from the edges to mark a rectangle.
Using a fork, pierce dough inside the markings at 1/2-inch intervals.
Fill the rectangle with Gruyere or Swiss.
Trim the bottoms of the asparagus spears to fit crosswise inside the tart shell; arrange in a single layer over cheese , alternating ends and tips. Brush with oil, season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle Parmesan on top. Bake until spears are tender, 15-20 minutes.